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Covid-19: How will London and Essex cope with Tier 2 rules?

By Sam Francis
BBC News, London

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  • Coronavirus pandemic
image copyrightEPA
image captionIncreased lockdown measures will be introduced from Saturday in London

Millions of people across England will be banned from meeting friends and family inside their household from Saturday. The regions have been told they will move to stricter Tier 2 restrictions to try and stop the spread of coronavirus. But how will locals cope with the new rules?

The restrictions in London, Essex, York and other areas mean more than half of England's population will be living under high or very high-alert restrictions.

The infection rate in London has been steadily increasing for several weeks and in the week to 9 October it was 77.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Henry Conlon owns the Dublin Castle, an iconic pub and live music venue in the capital's Camden region, and he fears the worst.

"This is the day the music died," he said.

"If you can't meet your mates in the pub, then what's the point in them?

"The 10pm curfew really stuck the knife in, but there was a bit of hope when things were returning to normality.

"We'll be lucky if we can keep our staff after this."

Tougher Tier 2 restrictions will put up to 250,000 jobs at risk in London's hospitality sector, according to the industry's trade body.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionJeremy Joseph (centre) has launched legal action against the 10pm curfew for hospitality venues

Amanda, an A&E doctor in Essex, said she supported the move to Tier 2.

"I think we should stop [the virus] now rather wait until it gets worse," she said.

"We are coming into a full department in the morning and we have patients on trolleys waiting for wards, and that's before we've hit flu season.

"It's dangerous to carry on and just assume everything will be fine."

The leader of Essex County Council, David Finch, said it was the "correct decision" to move the region into Tier 2 restrictions.

He said a stricter lockdown was "guided by the science and the fact is that the number of cases in Essex is rising exponentially".

"We understand that the move to the High local Covid alert level may affect people's lives and businesses and understand the very strong feelings about this," he said.

"However, we have a duty of care to the people of Essex, and we firmly believe that this is the best route to minimise disruptions, to save lives and to protect businesses."

image copyrightEPA
image captionThe Campaign for Real Ale said a Tier 2 lockdown put pubs and bars into a "danger zone"

Jeremy Josesph, owner of the G-A-Y nightclub chain in London and Manchester, said the new lockdown rules were "too confusing".

"Keeping households from mixing seems unmanageable," he said.

"If a group come to G-A-Y, who's responsible in making sure they're all from the same household? And who gets fined?

"We need the government to be working with business to make things work."

image copyrightBeth Stephenson
image captionBeth Stephenson fits women for bras at work, but is unable to visit her mum

Beth Stephenson, a shop manager from York, said she feel "frustrated" by the lockdown rules she feels "make no sense".

Her work fitting women for bras means she is in close contact with people all day. "But now I can't meet my mum at her house, even if we socially distance," she says.

"I think I'll go insane during another lockdown. I'm quite a social person.

Ms Stephenson says she now plans to "have a few friends round for a few drinks tomorrow whilst I still can".

image copyrightRuth Ifode
image captionRuth Ifode believes England is heading towards a full lockdown

Ruth Ifode, from Brentford, says she has made emergency plans to see her parents on Friday night.

"I don't know when I'll next get to see them," she added."I kind of wish we just did a proper lockdown. You can see we're creeping towards it anyway, when you see people dancing in the streets, people are misbehaving and won't listen to the experts."

The areas to go into Tier 2 restrictions this weekend are:

  • London
  • Essex
  • Elmbridge in Surrey
  • Barrow in Furness, Cumbria
  • York
  • North East Derbyshire
  • Chesterfield
  • Erewash, Derbyshire

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan believes the new restrictions are "necessary in order to protect Londoners lives".

Speaking at Mayor's Question Time, he said: "Nobody wants to see more restrictions.

"This move is based on the expert public health and scientific advice about what is necessary to save lives in the capital."

The lobby group Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said pubs in areas being placed into Tier 2 were "being put into a devastating danger zone".

Nik Antona, Camra's chairman, said they would suffer the "additional restrictions" without the "additional support" that forms part of a Tier 3 lockdown.

"Because pubs aren't being forced to close, they aren't eligible for Government support - despite being forced to operate under much tighter restrictions that other businesses," he said.

"This also has a huge knock on effect for our brewers, who will struggle to get their product to market."

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe infection rate in London has been steadily increasing for several weeks

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More on this story

  • Covid alert level: London, Essex, York and other areas moving to Tier 2